The Body Hunters by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009X971ME/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_N6xQrb13R6TGQ … …
The Body Hunters: Paradise Denied by Raven Newcastle http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CODG81Q/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_r7xQrb0RWBN1N … … the fun continues in the sequel.
As usual the people who call themselves my mother and father are gone leaving me in this big empty house alone. Of course they're off to save the world yet again, all the while forgetting about their only child. Dad is an FBI agent and he's heading up a big investigation, so I expect him to be gone; it's just part of his job. Mommy dearest on the other hand is off trying to impress her blue blood cronies by helping them with some charity dinner nonsense.
Those rich, high society bitches never did forgive my mom for marrying a black man, well Haitian Creole man to be exact. Mom comes from a long line of New Orleans nobility, going all the way back to caveman times probably. The snobs aren't exactly the most understanding and accepting group in the world. Before the ink was dry on their marriage certificate they excommunicated mom from their little clique. Over the years I've watched mom bust her ass trying to get back in the good graces of those good Christian women, for what I don't know.
She's even tried to use me in her ploy, expecting me to be a little brown copy of herself. Other than my caramel complexion and my gold-brown eyes I got from Dad, we sorta do look alike. I've got mom's straight black hair, which half the time I'm tempted to chop off just to piss her off and her facial features. Except for my boobs and my butt, which I'm assuming I got from Dad's side of the family, me and mom share the same petite and thin body structure, though I do think I've got a couple inches on her.
She's always trying to get me to go to this ball and that extravaganza. She forces me to wear these gaudy dresses showing me off to her so called friends like her personal life size Barbie. I drew the line when she tried to force me into befriending their equally bitchy and uptight daughters. That's definitely not gonna work. Danielle Labouleaux is not going to be caught dead hanging around those backstabbing, stuck up, highfalutin', snotty heifers. I've seen them in action and I need friends like that like I need a hole in the middle of my head.
With my issues with my parents, I'm so grateful for my grand mere. My parents were always too busy for me, wrapped up in their own worlds, so my grandmother has been my one constant. She lives just across the street which is totally convenient for those times when my 'birth units' piss me off or when I come home from school to an empty house. No topic is off limits and I can always count on her to be my Yoda with the good advice.
The connection between me and grand mere also runs a bit deeper than most. Unbeknownst to my parents and like my grand mere, I'm psychic. I can communicate with the dead. Yep, I see dead people! Grand mere says that it runs in the family through the female members of the Labouleaux family. Due to a childhood illness that nearly killed me, Grand mere says I have a stronger connection to what she calls 'the spirit realm' and that one day my abilities will surpass even her own.
Even though I've had this ability since childhood, I've put off telling my parents. I've seen the way they look at grand mere when she starts talking about spirits and the dead. They treat her like a senile old lady with one foot in the nursing home, which I know is far from the truth. Not wanting them to fit me for my own personal straight jacket, I decided long ago to keep my supernatural skills to myself.
Tonight is the Mardi Gras parade, and like my alien pods called parents, Grand mere is away, spending the evening at a church function. Without her to talk me out of any mischief, I'm left to my own devices. Oh well, it serves Marcel and Juliana right for leaving me alone. I surmise any trouble I get into is their fault.
Right now I'm in the garage, paying dear Lucille a visit. Lucille is my dad's classic '70 Z28 Camaro. He bought her before I was born from some old dude and he spent a nice chunk of change getting her in tip top shape over the years. Last year he had a new engine and transmission put in and the year before that he went for the candy apple or as I like to say 'hooker red' paint job. He refuses to let me drive her, but what dear old Dad doesn’t know won't hurt him.
Lucille and I have an understanding. I take her out every now and then and she doesn’t tell Dad. Seriously, it should be a sin to keep this car locked up the way he does like a giant paperweight. It's like locking a lioness up in a cage without letting her go out and hunt. Lucille is a bad ass ride and doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. I smile to myself as I run a finger along the smooth lines of the hood. Yeah, me and Lucille are gonna have a girl's night out.
With a plan in my head, I go up to my room and get dressed. I pull on a black knit tunic that ends right above my knees, with a pair of skin tight denim leggings. A black leather belt goes around my waist and I slip my feet into a pair of black biker boots that mom finds absolutely atrocious. Just in case it’s a little chilly out, I grab a beat up leather jacket that I stole from Mom's closet a few months back. I don't know what the hell she was doing with a leather jacket in the first place. I check myself out at the mirror and like always my eyes gravitate toward the faint scar that runs between my breasts, a souvenir of my childhood illness. Satisfied with my perfectly punk look, I go downstairs. I reach into the cookie jar where dad thinks he keeps the keys hidden and head to the garage where Lucille is patiently waiting.
I'm sixteen years old and I can now drive without an adult being present. When I'm allowed to drive, it's always the grandpa mobile my parents have designated as my car, you know the kind of car you don't back out of the drive way, you launch it, so driving Lucille is a treat. I start her up and Lucille roars at me. But any drive wouldn't be complete without driving music. One of the upgrades dad made to the Camaro is a CD player, so I check the visor where he keeps his CD's stashed. Sade, James Brown, Aretha Franklin, and Led Zeppelin are all waiting to be played like albums lined up in a juke box, but I grab Dad's AC/DC CD that mom refuses to let him play in the house.
With the bass cranked up way too loud, I head to my friend Amy's house, letting Lucille stretch her legs and pick up some speed. I called Amy before leaving and she was up for hanging out tonight. Maybe we could check out the Mardi Gras parade after all.
One of my pet peeves is people who like to mess over other people. When I was in sixth grade, I came to Amy's defense when Tammy and her blue blood crew started picking on her at school. I'd been watching from the sidelines as Amy, who joined the school in the middle of the year, was singled out by Tammy and her flunkies. They'd call her names, talk about her mom, that sorta thing, and me rooting for the underdog, was waiting for Amy to tell them to take the express elevator straight to hell. She never did and the bullying got worse and worse as Amy walked with her head down and never said a word in her own defense.
The terrorizing escalated one day in the girl's locker room when one of the gang tripped Amy and Tammy shoved her to the ground. Not able to mind my own business anymore, I intervened. I helped Amy off the tile floor and told Tammy if I caught her or any of her friends messing with Amy again, I'd put my boot to her ass like she owed me money. I could see the fear in Tammy's eyes. You see me and that bitch went way back.
When I came back to school after my heart surgery when I was six, Tammy was the ringleader of my torment, calling me Frankenstein because of my scar. After not being able to take the teasing anymore, I beat the dog shit out of her. She cried running home to mama and I was put on punishment. She never so much as farted around me even after all those years. She knew I wasn’t bluffing.
Since the moment I came to her rescue, Amy and I have been best friends. She skips to the car as I pull up to her house, in her jeans, black tank top and sneakers, her blonde curls bouncing along the way.
"Sweet ride, Danny." She said as she hops into the car.
I turn around the corner a little too fast probably, because I immediately see the blue and red lights flashing in my rear view mirror.
Oh shit. I mutter as the cop slow walks to my door, my hands shaking like a leaf. Dad is gonna skin me alive if he finds out! I hand him my license and registration and he gives me that fatherly look. As easily as he wields that look, I can tell that he has kids at home. He lets me off with a ticket and a stern warning not to get into trouble.
Crisis averted, I head to the Mardi Gras parade and because of the crowd gathered on Bourbon Street, I am forced to park the car over a few blocks.
Amy and I are engrossed in the sights and sounds of Mardi Gras. Even though I grew up in New Orleans, I was never allowed to visit the festivities because as my parents said 'Mardi Gras is not for kids'. I immediately know exactly what they meant and as I'm quickly learning, It's like a place for adults to behave badly, nothing and I mean nothing is too taboo.
As the parade floats pass, young women lift up their tops and show off their boobs for a handful of cheap plastic beads. The smell of liquor and puke hangs in the air and I roughly grab Amy's arm as she's about to step into a suspicious puddle on the sidewalk. Drunks stagger up and down the block while couples engage in PDA not caring who's watching. Drag queens make their way through the street, flirting with the men in the crowd. With all the adult activity going on around me, I start to feel a little uncomfortable and know exactly why I was forbidden from attending Mardi Gras in the first place. Gee go figure the dynamic duo of Marcel and Juliana got it right for once!
After getting more than an eyeful of the festivities, I tell Amy that I'm ready to go. We take our time as we head down Bourbon Street, window shopping the various store fronts. Amy Oohs and Aahs over the display of a voodoo shop and I am reluctantly pulled inside.
"Oh, this is so cool!" Amy says as inside my head all my supernatural warning bells are going off like a car alarm.
This shop is obviously a tourist trap, filled with all the stereotypical things you'd expect in a voodoo shop, from voodoo dolls, incantation books, and a smoking cauldron. It's to sucker the visitors in so they can buy 'authentic' voodoo paraphernalia.
"What you doin' here children?" An old woman startles us as she emerges from the beaded doorway at the back of the shop. Her voice heavily accented like someone from the Islands.
She's wearing a floor length caftan, small clouds of curly white hair peeking from under her turban, crowning her dark face. Her eyes are locked on me and I can see that one of her eyes is grey and the other hazel.
"Ah, you have the sight child?" She says to me and I know exactly what she's talking about. She knows about my abilities.
She turns to Amy and dismisses her with a wave of her hand. "You wait outside."
Like she's watching a tennis match, Amy looks between me and the woman for a few seconds before finally obeying.
Now alone the woman reaches for me. The first thing I think of when I see her hand is the gnarled roots of a tree. Her skin is baby smooth though, her hands warm as she takes mine.
"You are strong, child." She says to me. "Your grand mere teach you? Yes?"
With my grand mere's training, I'm not at all skeptical about this woman knowing about me. It just goes with the territory. I feebly shake my head yes.
"You will suffer a great loss of something you never knew you had." She predicts, her voice is raspy like she needs to clear her throat. "Three loves you will have."
Okay, she is really freaking me out with these predictions! She must have read my mind because she releases my hand, but not before pointing her knobby finger into my chest.
"Beware of a wolf in sheep's clothing." She says as I just nod my head like an idiot. She smiles and waves her hand at me to leave.
I'm practically running back out to Bourbon Street where Amy is waiting wide eyed. "What happened?"
"Um..She just wanted to tell my fortune." I say. Amy doesn't know I'm psychic and I have no plans to share it with her either.
I am totally rattled by the old woman's predictions, so I'm not in a talkative mood as I drop Amy back at home. I know it's harsh since she's my best friend, but I need some time to think to myself. I pull Lucille back into the garage without incident, remembering to leave things as I found them. I'm pacing in front of our big picture window, until I see grand mere pull up into her driveway.
Before she's out of the car, I'm across the street rambling on about what happened at Mardi Gras. Calm as ever she wraps her arm around me and sits me at her kitchen table, asking me to go over what I said slowly. With a freshly brewed cup of her special tea in front of me, I tell her the whole story between sips.
Grand mere doesn't seem the least bit troubled. She takes my hands and tells me that my future is what I make it. No one can know my future except for me. Feeling a little better, I nod and she wraps me in a hug and kisses my cheek. She points her finger at me and lightly scolds me about taking Lucille out without permission. It's funny how just a little chastising from her feels worse than any hollering my parents do when they're mad at me. I tell her I'll try and do better, but I'm careful not to make any promises.
Two weeks later the old woman's premonitions are just a faded memory. I walk into our house, slinging my backpack onto the loveseat. For some strange reason Dad is home, sitting in his favorite living room chair. There's a small stack of mail on the wooden coffee table.
I look at him and he looks at me. I know something is wrong but I don't know what.
"Hey." I said, putting my toe in to test the waters.
"Hey." He answers back.
"What's going on?" I ask.
"Oh, nothing." He says, flipping through the envelopes. "Just sorting through mail, you know: catalogues, bills, traffic tickets."
I am so busted. I'd planned on paying that ticket, but I'd forgotten all about it. My mouth opens to speak, but I can't make anything come out.
"You mind telling me what you were doing out in Lucille?" He growls, holding up the ticket reminder postcard.
"Uh, yeah, uh. See what had happened was….."